Like the national organization, the South Carolina Christian Coalition has been heavily focused on political activism, stating that members “are driven by the belief that people of faith have a right and a responsibility to be involved in the world around them.”
The Christian Coalition is a national organization founded in 1989 by Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Broadcast Network and host of the television show The 700 Club. It serves as a grassroots organization for conservative Christians to be involved in community, social, and political action. The Christian Coalition grew in membership nationally during the 1990s and by its own estimates to nearly two million by 2002. The Christian Coalition during the 1990s became a significant force within the Republican Party with its ability to get several of its key agenda points on the party platform during the Republican national conventions in 1992, 1996, and 2000. The Christian Coalition’s support helped the Republican Party achieve its overwhelming victory in the 1994 mid-term elections. The Coalition actively campaigned for the GOP’s “Contract with America” and later proposed a “Contract with the American Family,” which highlighted the specific interests of conservative Christians.
The South Carolina chapter of the Christian Coalition was founded on July 27, 1992, in Charleston with Roberta Combs of Hanahan, a former treasurer of the South Carolina Republican Party, serving as chair. Combs later replaced Pat Robertson as president of the national Christian Coalition in December 2001. Like the national organization, the South Carolina Christian Coalition has been heavily focused on political activism, stating that members “are driven by the belief that people of faith have a right and a responsibility to be involved in the world around them.” In particular the organization has focused on raising the profile of what they term “pro-family” issues. Prior to the national elections in 1992, 1996, and 2000, the organization distributed hundreds of thousands of voter guides regarding these profamily issues, which included abortion, education vouchers, gay rights, the death penalty, pornography, and school prayer.
The South Carolina Christian Coalition had mixed success during the 1990s in gaining leadership positions within the state Republican Party. In 1992 nearly half of the state’s delegation to the Republican national convention was made up of conservative Christians with ties to the Christian Coalition. In 2000 the organization had only a few members at the Republican national convention. At the same time, however, many political commentators credited the South Carolina Christian Coalition with helping Texas governor George W. Bush win the South Carolina Republican presidential primary in 2000. The strong support of the Coalition following Bush’s controversial decision to speak at the fundamentalist Bob Jones University in Greenville helped provide the difference in Bush’s race against Arizona senator John McCain and gave Bush the momentum to capture the Republican nomination and eventually the presidency.
Martin, William. With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America. New York: Broadway Books, 1996.
Watson, Justin. The Christian Coalition: Dreams of Restoration, Demands for Recognition. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997.